Women have the most to gain from the knowledge and understanding of Humane Vitae (HV) as well as the most to lose from ignorance and lack of exposure to its contents.
In reading the encyclical, it is almost impossible to miss that Blessed Pope Paul VI foresaw today’s reality and sought to put forward the moral doctrine on marriage, understanding that man’s reason and will must exert control over our innate desires and emotions, in order for our dignity to be preserved.
Let’s take a closer look to see how HV relates to the female psyche, and attempt to connect the dots to what we are witnessing today.
Union and Procreation
(HV #12) This particular doctrine, often expounded by the Magisterium of the Church, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act….
This is an essential aspect of understanding marriage that has been glaringly absent from any marriage formation; ‘The Ends of Marriage’ – Unitive and Procreative (Love and Life). Unitive, simply explained as the ‘two becoming one’; by the very nature of our sexual organs, the man is the donator, the woman, the receptor. When the two come together, they form one entity. Theology of the Body has been one of the best vehicles to explain the depth of this bond at all levels. Has one ever asked why do animals reproduce and human beings procreate?
Once we understand this inseparable connection, we need to look at how the culture of the world has affected human sexuality, marriage and the family. If we look at society today and all the issues related to our sexuality facing us, can we re-trace our steps to where the blurring of ideologies began?
Faithfulness to God’s Design
(HV #13) …. an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates his design which constitutes the norm of marriage and contradicts the Will of the Author of life……respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator….
Unlawful Birth Control Methods
(HV #14)…Therefore we base our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when we are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilisation, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation – whether as an end or as a means…. ‘it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it’ …Consequently it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong….
The statement, ‘it is never lawful, even for the gravest of reasons, to do evil that good may come of it’ sums up the underlying essence of this encyclical which sometimes makes it quite challenging to accept. For example, those who agree the woman should not have the child, proposing contraception or abortion, say “It would help society if there is one less mouth to feed” or for any other reason why those actions “ought” to be done. The apparent good which seeks to placate the female affective nature should not overshadow the acknowledgement of God as the Author of life, and hence our actions should conform to the directives of the Magisterium on the teachings of marriage, which stem from this source. Let God be God and not to end a life due to a satisfaction of our sentimentalism.
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